OCONTO COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - An Oconto County couple is due in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on numerous child abuse and neglect charges.
33-year-old Shawn Paholke and 31-year-old Jennifer Fendryk, both of the Town of Breed in northwest Oconto County, were charged with 23 felony counts between the two last month. They all relate to the treatment of Pahholke's daughters, ages 5 and 7.
The investigation into the couple began back in May when it was learned that the 5-year-old weighed just 24 pounds, according to the criminal complaint. Health officials say 40 pounds is considered healthy for her age.
Court documents reveal that a social worker reported to investigators that the girl's collarbone could be seen protruding from her shirt. "Bones were protruding from her face and body," said the complaint.
The 5-year-old also told investigators she was locked in her dark, sparsely furnished, toyless bedroom at all times and only allowed out to exercise, scrub the floor and use the bathroom. The social worker reported the room's single window was covered with a piece of cardboard screwed into the wall.
She also told investigators she couldn't play with her sister or Fendryk's 8-year-old son, who also lived in the home.
According to the complaint, Paholke and Fendryk admitted to investigators that they would withhold food and lock her in her room for disciplinary reasons.
In the complaint, the 7-year-old told investigators her father used plastic zip ties to tie her hands to a pole on July 4, 2012 - at which point it's believed she passed out from heat stroke. Medical records show that five days later, the girl was taken to a Green Bay hospital to treat second- and third-degree burns to her arms.
The complaint says Paholke told doctors at the time the girl had slipped and her arm got stuck on the hot deck. In interviews with investigators, Paholke denied zip tying her to a pole, but did admit using zip ties on her arms and wrists for 10 minutes as a part of a time out, according to the complaint.